App-based meeting room booking technology offers flexibility and efficiency, says Daniel Gustafsson Salmonsson.
04 November 2019 | Daniel Gustafsson Salmonsson
Ordering a taxi online should be straightforward, but it is rarely as efficient as using a ride-hailing app. The latter gets you from A to B and allows you to personalise your preferences. Finding and booking a meeting room should be just as flexible and efficient. And an app-based system enables this.
Users can apply preferences such as size, number of seats and specific equipment needed, and the app-based system lists suitable rooms with directions to them. Workplace managers looking to roll out such a system should consider the following.
Choose the right system
Users will only adopt new tech if it is easy to use and provides value. Choose a system that:
Offers ease of use: Don't choose a system contingent on cost alone or one that has the most extensive list of features. Users will not adopt it if it is any harder to use than their personal mobile devices.
Provides analytics: Measuring meeting room use helps to optimise space over time.
Run a trial period
Having chosen a system, workplace managers will need to consider how people will use it in conjunction with existing processes and office space.
Before roll-out, run a trial period in a single location or with a small group of users to understand how it is being used and iron out any unexpected problems.
Note that a pilot phase should not be confused with training employees on the 'right' way of using the product. If this needs to happen then it is probably the wrong product. Behavioural change should happen automatically. So because a system is easy to use and simplifies booking meeting rooms, employees will see sufficient incentive to use it.
This is what we see at our clients' organisations. For example, global robotics manufacturer OnRobot says the system has made it easier and faster to set up ad hoc meetings between geographically dispersed teams. Meetings that previously would have had to be scheduled well in advance can now be set up as and when the need arises, helping participants to remain more agile and to make faster decisions. This is because users quickly find available meeting rooms with the necessary equipment.
Optimise room use
Once systems are in regular use, workplace managers can begin to use the available data to consider how space can be best used.
Duration: Test it for between three and six months, which is long enough to identify trends without the data being skewed by one-off or unusual events. For example, looking at the data only for August, when many people are taking holidays, would not give a fair reflection of how space is being used at other times of the year.
Decisions: Data enables decisions to be made with real evidence of how rooms are being used instead of 'gut instinct' and perception. Some ways in which the data can inform decisions include:
- A few of the larger rooms could be split into smaller huddle rooms, or vice versa.
- Despite having enough rooms, some could be determined to benefit most from having specific equipment such as a teleconferencing facility.
- Alternative management of the week; all of the rooms could be booked for pre-planned meetings on Mondays but be empty for the rest of the week.
- There are a variety of challenges that come with implementing new technologies. Often, the biggest hurdle is changing staff habits, but by demonstrating the value of a new product you could quickly change perceptions by driving value and optimising the space available.
Daniel Gustafsson Salmonsson is product and development manager at Evoko